Texas and Ring of Honor don't necessarily go together on paper do they? I think of the Northeast and Midwest when thinking of ROH but, here they are in San Antonio, June 1st, 2013. The fans are enthusiastic and the wrestlers are game so, let's take a look.
Kyle O'Reilly vs Mike Sydal: Matt's younger brother vs one half of the tag champion reDRagon. This is a fine opener that makes Sydal look credible and make Kyle look like a rightful champ.
A local TV anchor comes out and talks a bit and Steve Corino decides its his job to give this guy a hard time. Mark Briscoe doesn't need a reason to fight and comes out to defend the fellow. This appears as an unscheduled contest but, it is advertised as Briscoe vs a mystery SCUM member. It as if there was another match scheduled but, they said 'screw it...this will count.' I've no problem with this whole setup and 'improvised' brawl...It was actually tons of fun. It's just goofy to have Kevin Kelly talk about a mystery match at the top of the show and then, a seemingly organic occurrence was in fact the booked match. It's kind of a Toto pulling at the Wizard's curtain moment.
Now back to our 'scheduled' contests
Barbie Hayden vs Athena: There was a real good face/heel dynamic in this match. I unfairly figured Barbie would be all looks and no talent but, that notion was a testament to her abilities as a hot shit heel. Athena conversely shined to some great reactions from the crowd. A simple but, very good match. Nice to see Women of Honor on a DVD.
Eddie Edwards vs Matt Taven: This is for a shot at Taven's TV title which seems silly since Edwards was a former World Champ and shouldn't need to fight for a title shot. That issue nonwithstanding, this was a damn great contest. I dare say a classic ROH bout. The work was snug and energetic, there were good moments of crowd interaction, and the shifts in momentum felt natural. Both guys are from Boston so, I can only think they've worked with each other on the way up based on this match. It was that good.
Jay Lethal vs ACH: These guys had a tough act to follow but, they answered the challenge. By engaging in a high energy game of human chess, Lethal and ACH wowed the crowd with another great match. It wasn't a classic like the Taven/Edwards battle but, it was different and exciting in it's own right.
Bobby Fish vs Raymond Rowe: This was the slow down match yet it still came through with fierce strikes and suplexes. A good match.
Roderick Strong vs Adam Cole: Its apparent to me now that this is a stacked card. My goodness. Here we have a ROH vet taking on the rising star Adam Cole. For those who know these two, this was exactly the match you wanted- back and forth action with both men pushing the pace and intensity. It was a near classic encounter. And that got me thinking about the overlooked list of great to all time classics of Roderick Strong. 2004-2016 in ROH (and PWG and TNA) is longer than any of his contemporaries like Danielson, Aries, Joe, Black/Rollins, Davey etc and later competitors like Cole. And because of that, Strong has been able to have a 12 catalog of great matches with the biggest talents of the last 2 generations of talent. Think about his multiman GenNext matches vs the Embassy, Aries & Strong tag champs, vs Bryan, Nigel, the Japanese talent of the later Gabe days, against Davey, Eddie, Steenerico, the Briscoes, his feud with Erick Stevens and the FIP belt blah, blah, blah it's insane really...and that's the last decade.
Michael Elgin & BJ Whitmer vs Rhett Titus & Jimmy Jacobs: Wow, this was the first tag match of the night. Well, uh it was a good one despite going longer than it needed to. Still a good cool down for the main even, which given the fantastic singles match, was needed.
Jay Briscoe vs Davey Richards: Title belt on the line. I was hesitant about Davey going into this. His stuff with the reDRagons left much to be desired in terms of patented Richards aggression. Seriously, I take the goofy Andy Serkis facial expressions over hammy wolf cries any day. So, I was not feeling well when this started out with PWG-like crowd participation wrestling. However, that fear was eliminated as this turned into a bona-fide slobber knocker! I mean they beat each other black & blue! Davey was in full maniac mode and Jay was his damn confident reliable self. So, I became fully engaged as both competitors are so evenly matched that the threshold of victory or defeat was razor thin. I gotta say this was another near classic match. It was the result of two peers understanding each others' strengths & weaknesses and erring on the side of simplicity. Hey this may be due to the smaller B-show crowd but, clearly there's something to be said when there's not that Big City - Big Show pressure to deliver a MOTYC.
So, that being said this is a amazing show and a must see! If you are cool with old school ROH production and venue then, you ought to pick this up. It's still floating around on DVD so, get this while you can.
Thanks for reading!